Friday, 31 May 2013

Summer Shows Begin!

It's very nearly June, and the summer art shows are about to burst onto the scene, with big mixed exhibitions of vibrant paintings.

Next weekend I've got four shows beginning - four!!  They all begin on Saturday 8th June, so I've been really busy getting all the right work delivered to the right place at the right time...

First of all I've got The Cornish Landscape opening in Long Melford, Suffolk at the Lime Tree Gallery.

Sennen Cove (Oil on linen, 24 x 26)

These paintings are going to be exhibited alongside seascapes by Rhonda Smith, amongst others.  To see the show and for more information, click HERE.

Then I've got another show opening in Suffolk, this time at the Thompson's Gallery in Aldeburgh, where paintings such as this one are in their big summer exhibition.

Rathlin Island with White Flowers (Oil on linen, 24 x 26)

For more information, go HERE. 

Then I've got a big selection of work at the Lemond Gallery in Bearsden just outside Glasgow, in their huge summer show.  They'll have work such as this for one weekend only (Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th June).

Bright Poppies (Oil, 6 x 6)

For more information, please go HERE.

And lastly, I have had work accepted for the Maclaurin Open Fine Art Exhibition, which I'm really pleased about.  It's going on show at Rozelle House in Ayr.

Shipbuilding on the Clyde (Oil on linen, 32 x 32)

For more information about that, click HERE.

All in all, it's going to be a really exciting summer, with loads going on.  So if you're near any of these galleries next weekend, then please feel free to go along to the previews on Saturday and have a look at all the wonderful paintings on show.  

Let's just hope the weather behaves itself!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

A Regal Arrival...

Well, look who it is in my flower bed.  Its Her Majesty, The Queen of the Night.

She's a whole four weeks later than last year, but it's still good to see her.

I've blogged before about the hundreds of Dutch bulbs that I've brought back with me and tucked under my garden soil, only to have them come up a riot of red and yellow rather than black.  This is my one and only Queen of the Night.

And quite right too...

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Michelangelo's David

As you know, I'm just back from driving to Italy for the weekend in my mini - the way you do.  Whilst I was there, I took a day trip to Florence.

If you go to the Piazza della Signoria, then one of the statues that you'll see there, surrounded by tourists taking photographs, is Michelangelo's David.

Well, not the original.  This one is a copy.  It's still pretty impressive, but it's not the real thing.  Even though it looks like the real thing.  Or what's left of the real thing.  It's all very confusing.

The real thing is over in the Academia, for safekeeping. (And you have to buy a ticket.)  Here's a photo of the real thing.

There's quite a history to the statue, even before Michelangleo started work on the lump of Carerra marble from which it's made in 1501-4.

In the early 15th century, a series of statues of Old Testament figures was commissioned for the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.  Donatello made Joshua in 1410 (in terracotta, painted to look like stone), and Agostino di Duccio started David in 1464 in marble.  He roughed out a block of Carerra marble, but stopped.  Ten years later, Agostino Rossellino had a chip at it.  In 1500, an inventory of the cathedral workshop lists the roughed-out figure as still sitting out in the yard, abandoned.

However, it was an expensive piece of marble, so other artists (including Leonardo da Vinci) were asked to take a look at it, and see if they could push the project on.  In 1501, the 26-year-old Michelangelo got the gig, and started work that September.  He was to work on it for more than two years.

In 1504, it was becoming clear that the six ton, fourteen foot tall block was never going to be able to be placed on the roof of the cathedral, as was the original intention.  If you have a look at the head and the hands, they are overly large for precisely this reason.  

It's not a statue that's meant to be seen in a gallery.  David was meant to be viewed from beneath and from a distance of about 40 feet.  The expression of stoical resistance as David looked out over the city, and the gesture of the hands, were all of vital importance in expressing the meaning.  So the head and hands had to be easily seen and 'read', hence the larger proportions and the sharp undercutting of the stone around the hair and eyes in order to give easy-to-read dramatic passages of light and shade,

His left hand holds the slingshot over his shoulder, and his right hand holds the simple stone that will overcome his enemy, the giant Goliath.

Photograph: Murdo Macleod

It is a hand that suggests tension, confidence, action, thought; a moment caught and a moment where we know the outcome but David does not.  It is also very real, very sensual and tactile.  Look at the muscles, the veins, the skin.  Imagine your own hand in that pose, holding a stone, such a simple action.  Michelangelo is making you feel the stone that's held in the hand, his hand, your hand.  What would it feel like to hold the simple stone that changed everything?  What does the moment before a life-changing action feel like?  

Like Bernini appearing to change the texture of hard, cold marble to soft, warm flesh over 100 years later....

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Rape of Proserpina (detail) 1621)

....Michelangelo also seems to perform some sort of miracle of transubstantiation.  Marble becomes some other sort of material, something pulsating with life and adrenaline.

Photo: Malgorzata Siudzinska

(You can also see here the finger that a young urchin snapped off whilst scrambling up the statue in the 19th century when the original was still in the Piazza della Signoria - at least, that's what a tour-guide told me when I was there.)

Anyway, back to the story.  After consultation with the top artists of the day, and much discussion and argument over various locations,  it was decided in June 1504 to install David next to the entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio.  It took four days to move the statue the half mile from Michelangelo's workshop into the Piazza della Signoria (during its journey it was pelted by stone-throwing crowds, as it was seen as a political symbol).

Various people scrambled up it over the years, attacked it, and stole the gilded garland from the head (the tree stump a his feet was also gilded at one point).  This, added to the damage done by the weather, led to the removal of David in 1873 to the Accademia.  The replica was placed in the Piazza della Signoria in 1910.

In 2003, the Italian authorities decided that David needed a spring-clean.  Any restoration of  a world treasure invariably causes howls of outrage and controversy, and this was no exception.  (Previously, David had been coated in a 'protective' layer of wax in the early 1800s, which was then stripped off in 1843 using hydrochloric acid, which also unsurprisingly removed part of the surface.)

However, the statue emerged unscathed from its distilled-water clean, ready for its 500th birthday in 2004.

So what is so potent about this, possibly the most famous statue in the world?  

There's something very powerful about the sheer size and the nakedness of it.  If it wasn't a nude figure, it wouldn't have the same impact.  It's about someone who is literally stripped right back to just being a vulnerable, naked human being, and yet they are empowered and ennobled by those very things, and their intellect, faith and ingenuity.  

The naked becomes the nude.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Blasts from the Past

I've been contacted by a number of people recently who've seen my blog or website, and who have got in touch to say, "I bought a painting by Judith Bridgland years and years ago - are you the same Judith Bridgland?"

The answer is invariably 'Yes'. 

So if you've got a Judith Bridgland painting that you bought years and years ago sitting on your wall / under your bed / in the attic, then why don't you let me know and send me a picture of it?

I'd love to see them again!

Contact me at

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Out on the Mugello Circuit

Just back from driving to Italy in my mini for the weekend.

Here I am at the front of the starting grid at the Mugello Circuit in Tuscany near Florence. Mugello is famous worldwide as a Ferrari test rack, and also as the international circuit where the Formula One and Moto GP races take place.

Mine is the yellow mini at the left with the roof rack.

Leading out was Paul Lips's mini (the red Works Mini Cooper S rally car with 18 on the side). Paul was very sadly killed last year.

Here's the Mugello Circuit.  It's kind of twisty.

Here we go!

Given that I'd to travel 1400 miles back across Europe in the old girl, I didn't want to make the valves dance on the bonnet too much, so I was pretty pathetic.

Ten minutes later, I'm across the line...

A dream come true for a humble 25 year old Mini City!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

The Cornish Landscape Moves to Suffolk

My Cornish Landscape show, with Euan McGregor and Peter Wileman, ends today in Bristol.  However, it is now going to transfer to Suffolk at the beginning of June.

So if you didn't get a chance to see it on the west coast, then can maybe catch this popular show at Long Melford over the summer.

The show opens on Saturday 8th June.  Brochures will be available, so if you'd like one and an invite, then please contact the Lime Tree Gallery HERE.

Botallack, 23 x 23 (mixed media on paper)

Monday, 13 May 2013

London Weekend

Had a great weekend in London at the 20 21 International Art Fair at the Royal College of Art.

I had paintings of Northern Ireland and Morar on the stand.  Lots of great art on show, and lots of familiar faces to chat to!

Here's my work on the stand...

Also had time to take in a concert at the Hammersmith Odeon...

(I wasn't sitting anywhere near the front to take this - I just have a good zoom on my little Olympus SZ!!)

This was part of the Genesis Revisited tour, with lots of special guests for the London show, both on stage (Nik Kershaw and John Wetton) and in the audience (Armando Gallo).  For such a big venue, it was a very intimate concert, very emotional.  During part of Shadow of the Heirophant, you could have heard a pin drop - the audience was almost holding its breath.

Quite a night! Liverpool on Sunday....

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Art Fair Begins

Here's another of my paintings that's going to be at the 20/21 International Art Fair.

Purple Tulips in April (Oil on linen, 12 x 12)

Very appropriate, as the tulips and the cherry blossom in my garden have just come out with the one good day of sun that we've just had!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

20/21 International Art Fair Starts Tomorrow

One of the big art fairs of the year starts tomorrow.  It's the 20 21 International Art Fair at the Royal College of Art in London, and I'll have paintings there!
Running from the 9-12 May, I'll be exhibiting with Duncan R Miller Fine Arts at this 'boutique fair' of modern and contemporary art from the UK and around the world. International names include Braque, Chagall, Matisse, Miro, Picasso, plus British favourites such as Peter Blake, Damien Hirst, David Hockney, Henry Moore and Grayson Perry. And me. 

With over 60 galleries represented, this fair exemplifies the cosmopolitan and diverse art scene of today.  I'm looking forward very much to seeing it.

Ladybower Reservoir, Peak District (Oil on linen, 12 x 12)

Read more about the Fair here.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Tretchikoff's Chinese Girl Revisited

Back in March I wrote a blog  about Vladimir Tretchikoff's famous kitch icon painting Chinese Girl.


Now you can read an article here where Monika Pon-su-san, the sitter for The Chinese Girl, talks about her memories of sitting for this iconic portrait.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Another Couple of Paintings

Here's two more paintings that are going to be heading for London soon.

The first is of the beach at Whitby.  I was there for a couple of days with my son, and it was the end of a lovely day, and the last of the sunlight was reflecting off the wet sand.  I grabbed my camera and took a series of photographs as the sun set.

Low Sun, Whitby Sands (Oil, 10 x 10)

The next is again of sunlight, this time the autumn sunshine coming through the branches of trees at the edge of Hampstead Heath.  

I wanted to paint a lovely big painting of this, so you really feel as if you could take a walk in the woods.

Paths Meeting, Hampstead Heath (Oil on linen, 32 x 48)

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Not Far Away - Just Very Very Small....

Whilst I am creating the world's lumpiest, clumsiest, heaviest sculpture, there's a man in Birmingham who has just made the world's smallest sculpture.


Tolkien-monikered Willard Wigan took a speck of stubble shaved from his chin, and then used microscopic fragments of diamond which he adapted into a tool to hollow out the hair and sculpt an image into it of a golden motorbike, called The Golden Journey.  

Willard spent 16 hours-a-day over a five week period producing the piece, to show 'how big small things really are'.

The image  - which measures just 3 microns - is smaller than a human blood cell and only visible through a microscope. It is so small that even the pulse in his finger could have crushed the sculpture altogether.

View a video of it  here.

Meanwhile, IBM has created the smallest ever molecular movie.

It's a one-minute video of individual carbon monoxide molecules repeatedly rearranged to show a boy dancing, throwing a ball and bouncing on a trampoline.  

Anyone who watched Vision On with Pat Keysell back in the black and white 1960s will be familiar with this genre of stop-motion films, which back then always seemed to feature dancing paperclips for some reason.  Paperclips weren't the most engaging of protagonists, but the children's programme certainly seemed to have a limitless supply of them caught in action doing their paperclippy dancing thing. Either that or it was that agonisingly slow film with the tortoise...

Anyway, each frame of A Boy and His Atom measures 45 by 25 nanometres - there are 25 million nanometres in an inch - but hugely magnified, the movie is reminiscent of early video games, particularly when the boy bounces the ball off the side of the frame accompanied by simple music and sound effects.  I guess that knocks Mr Wigan's efforts into a cocked microhat.

See the film in this article here.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Churchill - Painter, War Leader, Inventor of the Onesie

Whilst I was down in London taking the photographs for the paintings that I blogged about yesterday, I paid a visit to the Cabinet War Rooms.  They're just round the corner from the location of the Sunlight on Big Ben painting.

The Cabinet War Rooms were very interesting, but perhaps the item on display which most caught my attention was the large red velvet romper suit that Winston Churchill invented and wore as appropriate attire in which to fight a war.  

Here it is, his 'siren suit'.

Quite a sartorial statement, isn't it?

Nowadays, in these times of 'we're all in it together' austerity (although hardly on the same scale as the second world war), with the "Keep Calm and Carry On" wartime slogan on every tea-towel and mug, it was interesting to see that Churchill chose a comforting soft romper suit as his war uniform.  It's a onesie.

People of a certain age and/or living outside the UK will probably be looking blank at this point - this is a onesie, an all-in-one item of clothing beloved of stag parties and often based on an animal theme.  The shops are full of them, and they're very much a sign of our seeking-comfort-in-a-crisis times.

Huffington Post

(Again, people of a certain age/any age/living inside or outside the UK, may not recognise that it's Nick Clegg pictured here wearing it.  No, I've no idea who he is either, but apparently he owns a large green onesie.)

Now, apart from the comfort angle, the Churchill Onesie had a practical reason.  Winston could be dressed double-quick in order to get from bed to bomb shelter, in something that was stylish and singled him out as the Prime Minister.  For the 1940's, the siren suit is a pretty unique object, and I'm not sure how he got it on war-time ration coupons (because there's other examples of other Churchill onesie's in other collections).

So there you have it.  The legacy of Churchill lives on in stag parties around the country.  It was quite a creative thinking-out-of-the-box solution to a wartime situation.  But the, maybe it's just that kind of out-of-the-box creative thinking that won the war.

Churchill also painted to get away from the stress of war, and as relief from the bouts of depression from which he suffered.  

Here he is in his studio at Chartwell.

He wasn't a bad painter either.

Sunset over the Atlas Mountains - 1935 in Marrakech

Harbour Scene

This is The Beach at Walmer, which sold at Christie's in 2011 for £313,250.

Painted in 1938, it's an unusual composition as the painting is dominated by the brooding dark menacing shape of a cannon on the right hand side, which still guards the seaward approaches to Walmer Castle.  

As people happily bathe and play in the sea, the large black shape of the gun looms over them.  Is it the threat of war, or a manifestation of Churchill's feelings of depression, his 'black dog'?

The year after becoming wartime prime minister, Churchill was appointed Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and Constable of Dover Castle in 1941.  He and his family enjoyed bathing in the sea and the beach was one of his favourite subjects to paint.

Although it is said that Churchill loathed to give away any of his art, family legend suggests he had always promised a painting to General Ismay, Churchill's chief military adviser during WWII.  While visiting Churchill's studio Ismay chose The Beach at Walmer because, to him, it represented Churchill: standing guard on the coast of England.